God started moving in the depths of my illness - the fears, the doubts and anxieties - and He started to bring freedom; I'm not healed, I'm still very, very sick, but the way in which I look at and deal with my symptoms has changed significantly. I'm not afraid of them anymore, I don't not do things out of fear now, instead I can analyse something and assess whether or not it is wise for me to do, not out of fear, but out of love and respect for myself and those who care for me. When I suffer, my family, my friends, my ability to do every day tasks and maintain responsibilities suffer, and sometimes the payback is not worth the activity, but there are things in life that are just so worth flaring up for.
I've also come to the conclusion that I am not who I thought I would be, neither am I who I wanted to be when I "grew up". I desired to be the subtle, softly-spoken, good-with-children, compassionately quiet, elegant, able-bodied, eloquent-when-discussing-matters-of-the-heart and sharing burdens, never-gonna-complain, never-going-to-struggle-with-my-faith kind of woman - a stereotypical Sunday school teacher-type; that was a handful to type, let alone live!
Instead of that, I'm far from subtle (oh good grief I am so far from subtle when it comes to talking about matters of the heart!), pretty raw in speech sometimes with a dry (and occasionally bit too cheeky) sense of humour, currently nervous with children (I'm improving, mind), shy to a fault which is why I'm pretty silent on occasion (shyness can be a real blessing at times, but the extent of my own is a hindrance), clumsy (please place any cups of tea outside of the kicking range of my fidgety feet), sickly, direct and raw, I-dislike-being-sick-and-God-knows-it-ish and so constantly wrestling with the physical and spiritual realms that I wake up frazzled and need to rest before I even get out of bed... only sometimes. Honest!
I'm messed up and broken (but not beyond repair), I over-think, over-analyse and over-do it more frequently in a day than there are hyphens in this post. But I'm okay with it and gradually changing as God enables me to dig deeper into who He is. I'm not who I thought I would be, but I'm becoming who God has made me to be - I've had to realise that, and I can tell you that it has been rather painful, but equally thrilling and entirely more freeing. Growing up I had this image of myself in my head, I'm sure many can relate, and I so wanted to be that woman that I denied myself being myself so I could try and be her instead. That wasn't right.
I'm supposed to emulate Jesus, to become more like Him - which is the Holy Spirit's job, by the way, just sayin', you can't do it on your own - but God has given me a personality, passions, desires, talents and skills (as well as quirks) that all reflect my unique identity in Him. My character is to become like Christ, and my personality and all those other bits and bobs will conform to that, and those things will show the fruit of the Spirit, which draws others close to the Saviour and Creator of all things. As I become more like Christ, my natural tendancy will be to further His Kingdom. I have days where I get it mixed up and feel like I have to do something - discipline is good, but legalism is not, but in that I've started to learn the value of taking a step back when I'm being legalistic with myself, and therefore losing who I am in Christ, and instead taking time to nurture myself in some way and give myself the freedom to simply live life.
It's okay to enjoy life. I never used to, as morbid as that may sound, because I was controlled by my fears of who I was, what I was, what I'd done - all of the rubbish that Jesus washed away with His blood; I was afraid of my illness and felt responsible for it. I'm starting to learn to live for today, to not worry about tomorrow (for "tomorrow will worry about itself") and to rest in who God is regardless of all my mess.
That's grace. I keep messing it up, I keep getting annoyed at myself for being sick, I keep saying and thinking things about myself that I shouldn't... but I'm improving. That's all down to the Holy Spirit. The last four months I've finally become a woman - a real woman, a real person after a decade of living in a bubble, inside of my head, trapped in a tiny world that felt more like a dream than any form of reality. I can't say I'm entirely "okay" with who I am quite yet, but I'm definitely getting there, I'm learning to love myself (and that is biblical, by the way). And while I keep having to remind myself that when I do stumble God is there and won't forsake me, while - at this moment in time - I actually feel like running the race of faith is just too much for me, I belong to God as His daughter, not His slave. A daughter can choose to follow her Father, a slave doesn't have a choice. God invests in His children, He will continue to invest in me, even if I struggle to connect with who He is. He's there. He blesses me. He loves me.